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Frequently asked questions

What is the ESF?

The European Social Fund, ESF, was established in 1957 in the Treaty of Rome.

The ESF is one of the European Structural and Investment Funds, and the main tool for creating more and better jobs in Europe.

Every year, around 15 million people benefit from ESF-financed measures for learning new skills, getting a job or finding better jobs.

More info on the ESF

What is the total budget of the ESF?

The ESF budget for the 2014-2020 period amounts to some €80 billion, more than €10 billion per year. This will be complemented by national public and private co-funding of around €50 billion, bringing the total amount available for ESF-supported measures to around €120 billion.

For more information on the ESF budget, check the ESF allocation section.

In what areas is the ESF active?

The ESF supports measures such as:

  • lifelong learning and training of workers;
  • work organisation;
  • support for employees in the context of restructuring;
  • employment services
  • integration of disadvantaged people in the labour market
  • reforms in education and training systems;
  • networking of social partners and NGOs
  • training in public administrations and services

To learn more about ESF priorities see the activities pages or learn about support in your country.

How do I find documentation on the ESF?

The library section of this website includes PDF versions of all our publications.

What kind of activities does the ESF co-finance?

The ESF co-finances projects in a wide variety of areas related to improving employment opportunities and social inclusion, depending on the priorities set by the Member States.

On the activities pages you can see an overview of the areas funded.

See the project examples to learn more about concrete projects supported by the ESF.

Who can receive financial support from the ESF?

Commercial businesses, public agencies and non-profit organisations may all apply. It is not possible to apply as an individual; only organisations or companies can submit an application. Read about how to participate here.

The ESF is managed at national and/or regional level: to find out how to benefit from ESF support, please contact the ESF managing authority in your country or region. Contact details are given in the section “support in your country”.

A list of ESF beneficiaries is published by each Member State.

What is a Managing Authority?

The detailed management of programmes which receive support from the ESF is the responsibility of the Member States. For every programme, they designate a managing authority (at national, regional or another level) which will inform potential beneficiaries, select the projects and generally monitor implementation.

Can a project cooperate with other countries?

The ESF supports projects that cooperate with projects or organisations in other EU member states.

Check the page on transnational cooperation to find more information.

Search the project database to learn more about cross-border projects supported by the ESF.

What is a Monitoring Committee?

Monitoring committees oversee the implementation of ESF programmes. They consist of representatives from public authorities, social partners, NGOs, the education system and the Commission.

How do I get funding?

The ESF is managed at national and/or regional level: to find out how to benefit from ESF support please contact the responsible ESF managing authority in your country or region.

Contact details can be found in the Member States section of this website.

Does the ESF provide financial support to students?

An ESF Operational Programme which has education as a priority can finance student grants. However, the ESF is managed at national and/or regional level: to find out whether you are eligible for ESF support in your country please contact the responsible ESF managing authority. Contact details can be found in the section “support in your country”.

Please also check the website of the Erasmus programme, which helps students to study and work abroad each year: http://ec.europa.eu/education

One of our employees will participate in a training. Which support can we – as employer - receive from the ESF and under which conditions?

In principle the ESF can support the training of employees. The ESF however is managed at national and/or regional level: to find out whether you are eligible for ESF support in your country please contact the responsible ESF managing authority whose contact details can be found in the Member States section of this website.

We want to set up a training centre. Can the ESF help us?

In principle, the ESF can support training centres.

However, the ESF is managed at national and/or regional level: to find out whether you are eligible for ESF support in your country please contact the responsible ESF managing authority. Contact details can be found in the section “support in your country”.

Can the ESF support a project in Africa?

The ESF provides support within the EU.

For external assistance please check the website of EuropeAid.

Our organisation is co-financed by the ESF. Which logo can we use for our documentation?

There is no specific ESF logo. The relevant Regulation states that:

" All information and communication measures provided by the beneficiary shall acknowledge support from the Funds to the operation by displaying:

(a) the Union emblem in accordance with the technical characteristics laid down in the implementing act adopted by the Commission under Article 115(4), together with a reference to the Union;

(b) a reference to the Fund or Funds supporting the operation.

Where an information or communication measure relates to an operation or to several operations co-financed by more than one Fund, the reference provided for in point (b) may be replaced by a reference to the ESI Funds.."

Please refer also to the Guidelines for beneficiaries and other third parties on the use of the EU emblem in the context of EU programmes.

Did I really “win the ESF lottery”?

The Commission is aware of a series of fraudulent e-mails sent in the name of the ESF. The messages announce a ‘win’ of an important sum of money and request a return e-mail with contact information.

Please note that these e-mails are not sent by the Commission or with its permission. We advise you not to answer these messages. Should you wish to contact the Commission regarding ESF-related issues, please use our contact form.